With the school holidays starting tomorrow, the thoughts of many families turn towards the precious annual holiday. For families planning a holiday with the car, either at home or abroad, some simple advisable car checks before heading off could save a lot of trouble.
Here are five simple vehicle safety checks provided by Continental Tyre Group as part of its ‘Vision Zero’ strategy, a long-term initiative to reduce accidents through tyre technologies and innovative automotive systems. The German tyre manufacturer is also partner to the Global NCAP ‘#StopTheCrash’ campaign, a coordinated grouping of companies and automotive bodies in a shared commitment to promote advanced vehicle safety technologies as a means to improving road safety across the globe.
Give the car’s interior a clean
The majority of motorists are not particularly careful about keeping their cars very clean – inside or out. Results of a recent survey of 2,000 motorists showed one in five claimed to tidy the inside of their car just once a year, generally when it is facing an NCT or garage visit.
However, when embarking on a long journey, such as heading off on holiday, it is important to have the cabin area of the car clear of the usual clutter. For example, an empty can, bottle or other piece of rubbish rolling under the brake pedal while driving can have serious consequences. All loose objects in a car can become potentially lethal weapons when braking suddenly or if involved in a road traffic collision.
Check the car’s tyres
Quality tyres in good condition can mean the difference between avoiding trouble or having an accident. It recommends regular tyre safety checks to avoid such scenarios. When filling up the car with fuel, check tyres’ air pressures and inspect the tread depth of all four tyres - and not forgetting the spare wheel.
If there are any bulges or cracks, take the car to a reputable tyre dealer to have them professionally checked. Tyres are the only point of contact with the road, so it is very important to regularly check on their condition.
Check the car’s windscreen wipers
Everyone hopes for good weather, but sometimes it doesn’t always go according to plan. To be prepared for some of those sudden, heavy summer downpours, make sure to check the condition of the car’s wiper blades. Lift the front and rear windscreen wipers away from the glass and check the rubber blade is not worn down or peeling away from its base. If they are not totally clearing the water, see about replacing them before setting off.
Check the car’s lights
Driving with defective lights is both illegal and dangerous for every one using the road. Take a couple of minutes to ask a family member or friend to walk around the car as the side lights, headlights, the main beam are switched on. Check the indicators and brake lights, and do not forget the fog lamps and reversing lights. If travelling to the continent, do not forget to use headlamp converter stickers so that the headlights do not dazzle oncoming traffic. Also for travel abroad, remember other legal essentials such as a warning triangle and a reflective safety bib.
Check the car’s service schedule
Occasionally checking the level of oil in the engine is not enough to keep a car in good health. It should be serviced according to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended service schedule, which can be found in the car’s handbook.
During its service, important items such as the tyres, brakes, suspension, engine, exhaust, and transmission will all be inspected. And simple items such as the filters will be changed, important when embarking on a long drive, perhaps (hopefully ) in warm weather to avoid dirty air circulating in the car, or even worse, risking a breakdown because an old fuel filter is clogged with debris.
The number of road accidents actually increases during the summer months as many more people take to the roads for holidays and outdoor activities. So above all, make sure to drive in a careful and courteous manner, paying particular attention to more vulnerable road users: pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
Tom Dennigan of Continental Tyres Ireland, says a motoring holiday is a great way to get away for families.
“The holiday starts the minute the family sets off and there is none of the hassle of airports, flight delays, air traffic controller strikes or luggage restrictions that have become the bane of summer flying in recent years. And with a small bit of preparation, the driver can ensure the motoring element of the holiday can go off without a hitch.”